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Burnaby strata battles over elevator upgrade costs

Civil Resolution Tribunal says claims the 1985 elevator is a 'major safety hazard' in need of immediate repair were exaggerated.
elevator buttons

Claims that a North Burnaby strata’s 1985 elevator was a “major safety hazard” that needs immediate repairs to avoid potential injury from a plummeting elevator car were an exaggeration – but the elevator does need to be fixed, according to the Civil Resolution Tribunal.

Trinden Enterprises, which owns the two commercial strata units in Ingleton Place in the 3900 block of Hastings Street, had applied to the tribunal for an order that would force townhouse owners in the strata to split the $205,000 cost for elevator upgrades 50/50 with Trinden.

“Trinden says the strata and townhouse section have delayed addressing urgent elevator repairs,” reads a ruling by tribunal vice-chair J. Garth Cambrey Tuesday.

Trinden said the elevator was crucial for its tenants, a medical office and a physiotherapy office, and their clients.

The strata denied Trinden’s allegations and said it did its best to comply with its obligations under the Strata Property Act and its bylaws.

The strata said the townhouse owners in the 128-lot strata – which also includes a separate apartment tower – and Trinden had even agreed to split the elevator repair costs between them but hadn’t agreed on how.

The strata argued Trinden should pay more because it has more parking stalls and more people using the elevator than the townhouse owners.

The strata also said there isn’t enough money in the townhouse owners’ contingency reserve funds to pay for the upgrades.

Trinden, however, said the elevator was a “major safety hazard” and should be upgraded immediately, according to Cambrey’s ruling.

The company claimed that the strata’s elevator service company had expressed major concerns about possible injuries from an uncontrolled elevator fall caused by a hydraulic cylinder rupture and the possibility of people being trapped in the elevator for extended periods.

Trinden also claimed the service company had said the elevator no longer met Building Code requirements.

Cambrey, after examining reports from the elevator service company and a consultant hired to report on the necessary upgrades, concluded Trinden’s claims were exaggerated.

He said there was no question the elevator was old and needed upgrades but concluded neither the elevator service company nor the consultant had indicated a hydraulic cylinder rupture was “imminent” or the upgrades were “urgent.”

Given the growing risks associated with elevator’s age, however, Cambrey ultimately ordered the strata to get an updated report and get started on the necessary upgrades before the end of the year.

As for who should pay, Cambrey found that, under the Strata Property Act and the strata’s current bylaws, the costs couldn’t be split 50/50 between Trinden and the townhouse section of the strata but had to be shared by all 128 strata owners even though most of them don’t access the elevator.

So Cambrey also ordered the strata to call a general meeting by Nov. 1 to consider bylaw amendments that might change the way elevator expenses are shared.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor